Women's Basketball Powers Past Wheaton In NCAA Tournament Opener

by Alan Babbitt

Stung by a disastrous second quarter in the NCAA Division III Tournament opener, the Hope College women's basketball team regrouped at halftime and rebounded in the second half.

Swiftly and decisively.

The 10th-ranked Flying Dutch erupted following their lowest scoring half of the season and charged to a 67-55 victory against Wheaton College (Illinois) on Friday night at Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa.

Hope (24-4) advanced to face No. 15 WBCA/No. 11 d3hoops Wartburg, a 91-63 first-round winner against Bethany Lutheran College (Minnesota). Tipoff is 7 p.m. Central. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. Central.

"We survived to halftime. We thrived after halftime," head coach Brian Morehouse said. "We shot 59 percent in the second half. That's crazy. Nobody shoots 60 percent in the NCAA Tournament."

Forward Francesca Buchanan of Grant, Michigan (Sparta HS) scored 16 of her game-high 20 points after halftime. Guard Kenedy Schoonveld of Zeeland, Michigan (Holland Christian) netted nine of her 13 points during the second half.

The Flying Dutch shot 59.3 percent during the third and fourth quarters (16-27). They buried three 3-pointers and 11 free throws.

"I thought we were very aggressive to get the ball in the paint, get paint touches and force the hand-check calls we thought we could get against their tall players," Morehouse said. "We fought for 40 minutes against a really good Wheaton team."

Point guard Lauren Newman of Flushing, Michigan (Flushing) and guard Kayla Russell of Clarkston, Michigan (Clarkston) were driving forces for Hope, Schoonveld said.

"Lauren is always aggressive. She's a go-go type of player. She came up huge for us tonight on the offensive and defensive end," Schoonveld said. "She pressured their point guard and that kind of kickstarted our defense. She really pushed the ball.

"Kayla is a go-go type of player, too. She is one of our best on-ball defenders and drivers to the basket."

Wheaton (22-6) entered the game as the leading shot-blocking team in the country. The Thunder recorded four blocks during the second quarter that helped them outscored Hope, 21-8, and take a 27-21 halftime lead.

Hope outscored Wheaton 24-12 during the third quarter and 22-16 during the fourth quarter.

"We wanted to attack their bodies. They are so long if you don't get into their chest with your body, they will get you," Morehouse said. "We just needed to be the more aggressive team."

Hope got the foul line claimed a 19-6 edge in free throws made. Buchanan made all six of her attempts. Schoonveld and guard Sydney Muller of Grand Rapids, Michigan (G.R. Christian) sank all of four of theirs.

Buchanan, In addition to shooting 63.6 percent from the field (7-11), topped the Flying Dutch with eight rebounds and five assists.

Forward Olivia Voskuil of Holland, Michigan (Holland Christian) added nine points and four assists. She made all three of her free-throw attempts.

Newman chipped in eight points.

Hope.edu | PO Box 9000, Holland, Michigan 49422